Hillbilly Heroin Hoo-Hah


Back in a simpler America, it was the Drug Enforcement Administration and other prohibitionist butt-heads who made it increasingly difficult for pain patients to get the prescription painkiller Oxycontin (read all about that sad spectacle here, in Reason's April '03 cover story).

Now you can add trial lawyers, who have filed a class action suit against the drug's manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, on the grounds that the drug, well, works too well and has created a new population of addicts among the terminally and chronically ill. The Cincinnati Enquirer quotes a lawyer involved in the case:

"We have documents and evidence that no other group has," Frederick said. "It is the most prolific advertising and marketing campaign ever set forth for a Schedule II narcotic. They marketed these pills like they were M&M's to doctors. They tried to get these doctors to prescribe this drug like it was Tylenol for people with aches and pains."

Frederick said the drug is two and a half times as potent as morphine and it is highly addictive - information that was not provided to many physicians who were encouraged to prescribe it.

One upside of criminalizing marketing? Maybe it'll stop those TV ads for people to join class-action lawsuits.

One last point about Oxycontin. As the Enquirer notes,

The drug is targeted toward people who are terminally ill or intractable pain, such as cancer patients.